Kinugasa Teinosuke (衣笠貞之助)

Teinosuke KINUGASA (his real name was Teinosuke KOGAME) (January 1, 1896 - February 26, 1982) was an actor and film director in the Taisho and Showa periods.

Brief Personal History and Personal Profile

His parents owned a tobacco shop in Hon-cho, Kameyama City, Mie Prefecture. Kinugasa liked the theater since childhood and ran away from home to joined a theater group. He was scouted while playing a female role, and became an actor working exclusively for Nikkatsu Mukojima Studios. In 1918, he debuted in a film entitled "Nanairo Yubiwa" (Seven-colored Ring), and went on to appear in 130 productions over the next five years.

When the motion film industry began to use both actresses and actors, it became unnecessary to play female roles, so he turned to directing and made his directorial debut with "Imoto no Shi" (The Death of My Sister) in 1920. After Kazuo HASEGAWA's debut, Kinugasa continued to cast him and made him a star, making the 1932 talkie "Chushingura" (The Loyal 47 Ronin) a major hit. His 1926 film "Kurutta Ichipeiji" (A Page of Madness) was screened worldwide with sound in 1982, and achieved major success. Kinugasa is known as the first Japanese director to have received worldwide recognition in Europe and in the United States with films including "Jujiro" (Crossroads).

After World War II, he released successive entertainment period film masterpieces with Kazuo HASEGAWA and Isuzu YAMADA in lead roles. In 1953, "Jigokumon" (Gate of Hell), likened to a historic picture scroll brimming with flamboyant colors, won the Palme d'Or grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival, an Academy honorary award and costume design award, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for "Best Foreign Language Film." As a result, Kinugasa enjoyed the title of a major international director.

As a Daiei executive, he subsequently continued to cast Fujiko YAMAMOTO, who entered the film industry after being crowned Miss Japan, and made her a star. In particular, "Shirasagi" (The Snowy Heron) won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1958 and was highly regarded worldwide for its Japanese atmosphere.

In his twilight years, Kinugasa retired from film direction after his final 1970 film titled "Chiisai Tobosha" (The Little Runaway), and worked on stage direction for Toho Kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors).

In 1971, the pre-war film "Kurutta Ichipeiji" which was thought to have been lost was found in a store room at his home, and screened in the UK and in France. The film was reappraised to be Japan's first avant-garde film influenced by the neo-perceptionist writers of the time such as Riichi YOKOMITSU and Yasunari KAWABATA.

The film director, Toshizo KINUGASA, is his younger brother.

[Original Japanese]